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Mixed reactions trail Nigeria’s independence celebration

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IT WAS a colourful ceremony as ndi Anambra from different walks of life trooped out en masse to commemorate Nigeria’s 58th Independence anniversary at Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka.

The occasion attracted government officials, politicians, traditional rulers, captains of industry, women groups, students and teachers across Anambra State.

Parade by paramilitary organizations, as well as match-past by different schools added colour to the event.

Delivering an address at the occasion,Governor Willie Obiano advised political leaders not to use their ambitions to truncate the nation’s democracy.

He said the 2019 elections would be a watershed in the history of the nation and charged political parties to use their primary elections to build a robust democratic culture.

The Governor stressed the need for political actors to embrace the primary elections as a family affair and not allow their differences to create unnecessary rifts in the polity.

He urged the citizens to pray for God’s guidance in tackling issues confronting the nation.

In an interview, a former Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Chief Simon Okeke called for the practice of true federalism to move the country forward.

The member representing Anambra Central District at the National Assembly, Senator Victor Umeh, stressed that the country was in dire need of restructuring to fast track development.

On his part, the Special Adviser to Governor Obiano on Political Matters, Chief Ifeatu Obi- Okoye, called for proper management of resources to improve the nation’s economy.

Also, the Managing Director of Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), Venerable Amechi Okwuosa urged political leaders to offer appointments to the right people who would help in driving the nation’s economy.

A political stakeholder, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, said there was need to include youths in all facets of national life, while a Member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Doctor Pete Ibida, reiterated the need for the independence of the legislature to build a lasting democratic culture.

Traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Bennedith Emeka, thanked God for making it possible for Nigeria to attain the age of 58 years even without extinction, stating that the anniversary did not call for celebration.

Anambra State Commissioner for Works, Marcel Ifejiofor, said the major problem of this country was bad leadership. “I wish we have good leaders, we have everything it takes to make this nation a great nation.

We are rich in natural resources, human and capital resources, but we have bad leaders. Our prayer is that in 2019 election, we would have good leaders who love this country and are not selfish” he said.

Contributing, Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Peter Obi Okoye, said the country had not actually come out of the recession. “Things are still rough and the economy has not really improved in terms of putting food on the table of the basic ordinary Nigerian. This should be the real indices of check in the economy, not based on any economic arithmetic” he said.

“I’m even more worried about the things that are going on at the moment, Labour congress is threatening to strike for interest on wages. A lot of states are still in arrears of salary except a few states like Anambra state. Oyo state is just going in for their election, with eight months arrears they had to pay three months in order to go for that election, and I wonder what would happen if there is an increase,” Okoye lamented.
In his reaction, the General Overseer, New Bethel Christian Centre, Venerable Dubem Amaechi, stressed that Nigeria has done well in some areas, but needs to improve in certain areas. “Economically, Nigeria at 58, is still growing and faces lots of challenges

“We expect the Federal Government to stand up to reality by giving Nigerians hope and sense of livelihood because that is what the people are clamouring for.”
Former Awka zonal chairman of Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Oliver Onwughalu, wants the federal Government to increase the national budgetary allocation of health to the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of five percent.

The medical expert wondered why a massive chunk of the nation’s budget is allocated to defence when the nation is not at war, and suggested that such allocation be shifted to the health sector to enhance its health care delivery.

He called on Nigerians to learn how to live in peace with one another to promote its socio-economic heritage, as well as harness its rich material endowments.

On his part, a former chancellor of the Awka Catholic Diocese, Very Reverend Monsignor John Paul Nzomiwu, regretted that Nigeria is moving backwards, particularly under the present administration which has presided over lopsided appointments, insecurity, elections riggings, high exchange rates in foreign currencies and selfishness.

Contributing, the Episcopal Vicar of the Awka Catholic Region and the Cathedral Administrator of St. Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, Awka, Reverend Father, Matthew Attansi regretted that Nigerians are experiencing 58 years of sorrow, characterized by corruption, bad governance and massive sufferings in spite of the nation’s abundant mineral and material resources.

Father Attansi advised Nigerian leaders to lead Nigerians aright using its endowed material resources.
He advised the people of the South East Nigeria to go back to agriculture and help themselves without waiting for the government.

The Principal of Eastern Academy Girls Secondary School, Onitsha, Dr. Stella Umunna urged Nigerian leaders to carry the masses along, and make the teachers and the Nigeria Labour Congress happy by making their take home pay attractive.

Also, the Principal of Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, Dr. Raphael Anaekeokwu, expects that the nation’s leaders will work towards using Nigeria’s resources for the good of its citizens, while the Principal of Comprehensive Secondary School, Nawfia, Mr. Christian Ezeamaku, urged Nigerian leaders to convene a national conference for Nigerians to decide how to chart a new course to live as brothers and sisters.

Headmistress, Community Primary School, Amawbia, Lady Evelyn Offia, remarked that while Nigeria still struggles to survive in most areas, particularly in education,Gov. Willie Obiano has taken the bull by the horn by taking education to a greater height in the state”.Federal government needs to emulate this for better future in the lives of this young ones growing up. They are the future leaders of this country and needs solid education”,.

At the special Eucharistic service to mark the anniversary at St. Faith’s Cathedral,Awka on Sunday, Anglican Bishop of Awka Diocese, Right Revd. Alexander Ibezim, urged political leaders to design strategies that will have positive impacts on the lives of citizens.

He explained that the masses were presently passing through difficult moments and noted that only an effective approach to governance could salvage the situation.

Ibezim urged Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State to make more investments in the agricultural sector and human capital development.

Addressing the congregation, Governor Willie Obiano urged the citizens to pray for those in positions of authority to enable them offer quality governance to the people.

Governor Obiano described the 2019 General Elections as an important one for the nation, hence the need for citizens to conduct themselves well.

He said the unity of the nation was non- negotiable and challenged all segments of the country to avoid acts capable of throwing the nation into confusion.

Governor Obiano stressed that his administration inaugurated a Health Insurance Scheme in realization of the need to offer citizens quality Medicare at a subsidized rate.

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